Thank god the opponent is the Lions. If not, this game might be a two or three TD deficit at halftime.
Despite a solid opening drive in which the Vikings mixed the pass and the run and even mixed up the run play calling, the Vikings reverted to bad offensive habits beginning with the second drive. Yes, the Vikings scored on their second possession, but it required a desperation heave on 3rd and 24, combined with atrocious Lions' defense, to make that possible. A false start penalty, poor blocking, and hesitation on the part of Culpepper really stifled the Vikings from this point on.
But It Is the Lions
After the Vikings took a quick 14-3 lead, the Lions showed why they have come close yet lost so many games this season as they made their way deep into Vikings' territory, with a great chance to take the lead, only to settle for 10 points. Not that that is bad, just that it would have taken little to score a second TD, especially the way that Sean Bryson was ripping through the Vikings' line and linebackers.
But the Lions are the Lions and the Lions did what they always do, they found a way to settle for less than they should have. That settling culminated in a certain, though dropped, INT by Dre Bly, an INT that quite possibly could have been returned for a touchdown and certainly would have given the Lions great field position with sufficient time to run a few plays against the gassed Vikings' defense.
Second Half Needs
The Vikings need to return to what made the first drive a success--taking what the defense gives while mixing the plays. And, quite surprisingly, this includes making use of Michael Bennett on screen plays, quick hitches, and dump passes. The Lions appear utterly incapable of containing either Bennett or SOD.
On Defense, the Vikings need to tackle the runner head on in the gap. It is not clear why the Vikings are having more difficulty with Bryson than they had with Kevin Jones, but they need to fix the problem, whatever it is. Tackling head on, rather than from the side, would be a start. It would also help if the Vikings put five in the box as they did at the beginning of the game. After Harrington began finding open receivers, and the receivers began delivering receptions, the Vikings dropped the fifth man out of the box. This opened it up a bit more for Bryson, as did Bryson's ability to run outside (something Jones has been unable to do).
Up Next: Rewind.